Hirsch, Edward

United States, (b. 1950)

2. What the Goddess Can Do
(The Odyssey, Book Ten)

  1. Maybe it was the way she held her head
  2. or her voice, which was too high, or her braids,
  3. which reminded me of a girl I used to know,
  4.  
  5. but I sat on a tall chair like a god
  6. drinking a bowl of honey mulled with wine
  7. and getting drowsy, counting my good fortune,
  8.  
  9. so that she could transform me into a pig
  10. squealing for acorns, grunting and bristling
  11. in a sty, snouting the ground with other swine.
  12.  
  13. Later, our leader convinces her to reverse
  14. the spell, setting our animal bodies free…
  15.  
  16. I have been many things in this life —
  17. a husband, a warrior, a seer — but I cannot forget
  18. what the goddess can do to me, if she desires.

This is an excerpt from the poem “The Desire Manuscripts.” © Edward Hirsch. Lay Back the Darkness. New York: Alfred A. Knopf (2003).

About the Poet:

Edward M. Hirsch (b. 1950) is a U.S. poet, essayist and critic. he was educated both at Grinnell College and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Ph.D. in folklore. He has been a professor of English at Wayne State University and the University of Houston. In 2008, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Hirsch is currently the president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Hirsch has published several books of poems, including The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems (2010), Special Orders (2008), Lay Back the Darkness (2003), On Love (1998), Earthly Measures (1994), The Night Parade (1989), Wild Gratitude (1986) and For the Sleepwalkers (1981).

His prose major volumes are The Demon and the Angel: Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration (Harcourt, 2002), Responsive Reading (1999),
the national bestseller How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry (1999)
and Poet’s Choice (Harcourt, 2007), which collects two years’ worth of his weekly essay-letters running in the Washington Post Book World. [DES-03/12]

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